Make Good Use of Winter Downtime

Make Good Use of Winter Downtime
Okay - first my apologies for not being able to complete my "Nostalgic" article in time to meet the demands of our slave-driving Editor. I have excuses, none of which you would want to hear but trust me it will get done. I know this because the "Boss" said he wants to go along with me and take pictures and fish with some of the old gear. Yes, that means I'll have to endure another day on the water catching fish, telling stories and enjoying his company. I'll survive... somehow.

If you haven't run your boat in a while, let's hope you've put some form of fuel stabilizer in the fuel tank. I had an outboard motor mechanic tell me the other day that in as little as 30 days the gasoline that we're buying today can start to degrade and cause problems for your outboard. He also reminded me to not only add the fuel stabilizer but to keep the tank full during down time to help prevent condensation build up in the tank.

Every year I try to write an article with tips that will help you get through the winter months when a lot of outdoorsmen have put their rods and reels away in favor of a rifle or shotgun and the deer stand or duck blind. I'm not changing my ways; here are some more tips.

In addition to the fuel tips above, grease the hubs on your trailer and check the tires. If you haven't changed the bearings and seals in the wheels for a season or two, now's a good time to do it. You'll be ready and won't have to be concerned about sitting on the side of the road scratching your head and wondering how you can leave you boat unattended while you go to town and try to find the right bearings, races and seals.

Are the lights on your trailer working? Is the winch still in good shape and the strap that attaches it to your boat? How about the boards? Are they rotting and in need of replacing?

And speaking of lights, do the running lights work on the boat? Have you looked at the junction panel under the console lately? You know, that board with all the fuses where all the wires tie in? A little bit of Corrosion X will go a long way there.

Something else to think of is the vehicle you tow your boat with. A lot of trucks seem to fare better with synthetic oil in the differential than with regular gear lube. You might ask your dealer or mechanic what they think. How's the radiator and hoses? Are the belts or belt in good shape and have you changed the oil lately?

Lots of things to check on and we haven't even gotten to your fishing tackle, rods and reels, yet.

Are any of the hooks on your topwater, slow sinking or other plugs rusty and in need of changing? A pair of split-ring pliers, new split rings, hooks and a little time will have your favorite lure ready to go.

When was the last time you stripped your reels down to the bare bones and cleaned them? If you get on that now and find you need to replace some bearings or other parts you'll have time to go get them or order them and get your reels working like new again.

You will also want to check your rod guides for nicks or cracks and get those replaced. The last thing you want is for your line become frayed or otherwise compromised while fighting a fish and losing both the fish and the lure. Trophies don't come on every cast; winter downtime is perfect for taking care of these.

There are all kinds of things that need to be done to all of our equipment that we know of but either put off for another day or conveniently forget about. But if that equipment fails on us we're not going to get much done and we're not going to have much fun on a trip to the water.

Be Safe.